ECHL: South Carolina Battles Back To Earn Point as Gladiators Stay Undefeated

The South Carolina Stingrays were back on home ice after a brief road trip, facing the Atlanta Gladiators for the second time this season who are undefeated.

The Stingrays took the early advantage when Reece Vitelli was hauled into the penalty box for tripping three minutes into the game. Atlanta quickly struck back as they opened the scoring as Ryan Cranford snuck one past Garin Bjorklund three minutes later. A lot of energy erupted between the clubs during the period, as there were 29 shots on goal combined in the opening period. The two captains met in the middle with the officials after the period ended.

It wasn’t long after the puck dropped; the captains met on the boards and dropped the gloves for a nice brawl. Garet Hunt and Jacob Graves duked it out before heading into the box. Alex Whelan laid a nasty hit on Jack Adams not long after, sending Jack Adams right behind his Captain to the Box. The tilts didn’t end there, as the battle of the 22’s quickly followed between Ian Mackey and Connor Casparie. Caspaire quickly got Mackey’s helmet off before yanking him to the ground. Casparie was soon taken to the locker room for being charged with a fighting major and a hair-pulling penalty, putting the Stingrays on a five-minute power play. With the penalty box filled to the brim and a man advantage, South Carolina still could not get past Tyler Harmon.

The third period picked up right where the second left off, with a breakaway for Ryan Leibold, only to have Harmon leave the goal crease to meet him at the blue line. Harmon was able to defend the puck, but what a move from the Atlanta netminder turned defender. Atlanta killed another penalty before the Stingrays were able to find the net during the final minutes of regulation. Josh Wilkins became the crowd’s number-one star as Spencer Meier and Connor Moore helped him sneak one past Harmon, finally evening the score sheet. With a little over two minutes to go, South Carolina and Atlanta truly battled it out until the very end, forcing overtime.

With the crowd on their feet and ready to close the game out, both teams came out with a bang. Bjorklund made a last-minute save to keep the Rays in it, which was enough for an official review. Luke Prokop was the hero for the visitors to keep the Gladiators perfect record alive after four minutes of overtime play. This could become a hot division rivalry between these teams throughout the season.

South Carolina hits the road next week, facing the Jacksonville Icemen and the Savannah Ghost Pirates, before heading back to the Coliseum on November 19th to face the Solar Bears, where they are looking to get their first home ice win.

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